Study Guide: Waking From Oz

Sunday April 14, 2013 | Greg Boyd

Focus Scripture:

Brief Summary:

In the movie, Wizard of Oz, the characters are all looking for something they think they need. As Christians, we do the same. Whether it’s a new job, a marriage, a lack of a marriage or some other change that we’re looking for, we all look for something else that we think we need. In this sermon, Greg shows us that we have all we need for joy, and we just need to activate it through faith.

Extended Summary:

Throughout the movie, Wizard of Oz, the characters look for something they already have. If you’ve seen the movie, then you know that the scarecrow is looking for brains. And the tin man is looking for a heart. And the lion is looking for courage. They all want something which they don’t think they possess.

The problem with all four characters is that they had a misconception of themselves that caused them to be searching for things they already have. The scarecrow was looking for brains, but he was always the one that had a solution to problems. And the tin man wanted a heart, but he was the most empathetic and emotional person in the group. The lion wanted courage, but he was the one that always wanted to jump into action. The wizard pointed this out to them at the end of the movie, and instead of giving them the things they wanted; he gave them something to remind them of what they already had.

Epigenetics is a good way to explain this. Epigenetics is a field of science that found that our genetics are activated by an external source. They found that identical twins separated at birth and adopted by different families turned out differently later in life. So, the twins could have similar genes for Alzheimers but only one of them would develop the disease. It was the difference in environment that stimulated one to develop the disease and not the other. This was the same for other things such as their personality, height, weight, etc.

Our lives are the same way. As we learned last week, when Jesus died and rose again, he fundamentally changed our reality. God said that we were new beings with different destinies and character. So, when God speaks things into existence, they are already within us, even when we don’t realize it. It takes an external source, our faith, to activate this new spiritual genetic code within us. But, we constantly seek after these things as if they haven’t been implanted within us. We hunger for the new self but God has already given us our new identity.

When Jesus died and rose again, God said to all of us “You are holy, blameless, and characterized by compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.” This isn’t an external list of rules that we need to live out in order to be sons and daughters of God. Rather, we are this way and simply need to awaken this genetic change in our lives. Simple, but a lifelong struggle and call.

By God’s grace, we are characterized by compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. But we can only live out that life by how much faith we have in this reality. To activate this faith, trust what God says is true even if you don’t feel this way. Choosing to be these things, by your faith, will activate this real self in your life. Everything we do either suppresses or releases our new self. That’s why it’s especially important to practice the presence of God in your everyday life and in all situations. And make sure you’re not the only person to remind yourself. You should have friends and a community of believers around you that can help you live out this new reality that God has made for you.

We all long for and want to live a life that is characterized by the goodness of the Spirit. But we all continually strive to live this life and fall short from time to time. That’s ok. When we continually see the real us, when we imagine the real us that God has defined, we begin to see that living out these characterizations is not a list of rules we have to live by but a new, beautiful character that God has lovingly given us.

Reflection Questions:

  1. What misconceptions about yourself do you have? God has a contrasting truth about each of our misconceptions. What is the truth God is saying about you?
  2. Thinking about Greg’s illustration of genetic truths waiting to be activated, what characteristics about you have developed in your life due to external events or personal realizations?
  3. What spiritual disciplines are you using in your daily walk with God? How have they helped you feel connected to the new self that God has created in you?
  4. Seeing the real you can be difficult. What good things has God called you to use? How can you use these gifts more in your life?
  5. Greg gave us a prayer exercise last week. What have you encountered as you’ve prayed this past week?